Disarmament Insight


Monday, 19 November 2007

The Hub, a “YouTube for human rights”

The international human rights organization Witness, founded in 1992 by musician and activist Peter Gabriel and the Reebok Human Rights Foundation, recently launched a project called The Hub.

Witness is a non-profit organization that provides video cameras, technical and strategic training to people in the field so that they can capture evidence of human rights violations.

The collected footage is used in different ways: as education and mobilization tools, as evidence in justice courts or to catalyze policy change. For example:

  1. The arrest for war crimes in March 2006 in Democratic Republic of Congo of Thomas Lubanga Dyilo by the International Criminal Court resulted from an advocacy campaign by Witness’ partner AJEDI-Ka/PES, which included video distribution and screenings to key officials of the International Criminal Court.

  2. Following the preview of a video by a Witness’ partner organization on the atrocities caused by landmines, the Senegalese Minister of Women’s and Family Affairs “pledged unprecedented funding for women landmine victims, and a regional hospital is providing prostheses free-of-charge.”

Witness said its goal is to provide resources to people so that they can “transform personal stories of abuse into powerful tools for justice, promoting public engagement and policy change.” In that context, the Hub initiative is a further step towards the promotion of human rights.

As Peter Gabriel described it at the launch of the new website in early November, the Hub is “the first online global platform that offers you the tools you need to use media for advocacy — enabling you and millions of others worldwide to use camcorders, cell phones and cameras to upload, share, and discuss your human rights-related footage, as well as organize campaigns to create change.”

The Hub is currently in a “beta” stage as kinks are ironed out. But you can participate in various ways, in particular by uploading human rights related videos, images and audio files.

These kinds of innovations are worth spreading and might inspire those in the disarmament and arms control community, especially those working in the field who have been witness to the practical consequences of human rights violations and related problems of human insecurity. Share what you see! As a Witness slogan puts it:

“See it. Film it. Change it.”

Aurélia Merçay


The Hub website: http://hub.witness.org/.

Witness website: http://www.witness.org/.

Prism Webcast News, “Peter Gabriel launches the Hub—a ‘YouTube for human rights’”, http://prismwebcastnews.com/pwn/?p=1584.

Video of Peter Gabriel at 2006 TED Conference, “Fighting injustice with a videocamera”, available online at http://www.ted.com/talks/view/id/23.